Can These Bones Live?


In Eastern Orthodox iconography,  the bones of the first man, Adam, are depicted as buried at the foot of the cross.  The blood of the crucified Christ is pouring down on them.  In this scene the redemption of humanity is shown as reversing sin and death that began with Adam.  Christ’s blood was shed for us as the eucharistic words proclaim to us every time we receive Holy Communion.

There beneath the cross are the bones of Adam dead because of sin.  Imagine a larger picture that a passage from the prophet Ezekiel provides for us.  The seer envisions a valley of very dry bones.  The Lord asks him, “Can these bones live?”  Ezekiel’s non-committal, and yet, wise response is, “O Lord God, you know.”    Ezekiel is instructed to prophesy over the bones in whom God breathes life.  The raised-up bones are the people of Israel.  They who were quite dead (dry bones) now live.

Imagine that we too are among the dry bones.  We have been quite dead in our sins.  But, because of the resurrection of Christ, we too now live.

In Romans 5 Paul contrasts the death that Adam brings into the world with the life Christ bestows.  The grace that comes through Christ brings us justification while Adam’s sin (and our sin) brings condemnation.  We (dry bones) have been given eternal life.

The Easter message is that though we have sinned and have been in thrall to death, Christ has freed us from both sin and death.  His resurrection is the good news that God has justified us and will save us so that we may join all the saints in eternal life.

Where the Paschal blood is poured,

Death’s dark angel sheathes his sword;

Israel’s hosts triumphant go

Through the wave that drowns the foe.

Christ, the Lamb whose Blood was shed,

Paschal victim, Paschal bread!

With sincerity and love

Eat we Manna from above.  (The English Hymnal, 128, verse 2)


Christ is risen!

Michael G. Tavella

Resurrection of Our Lord

March 31, 2024

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